On Episode 205, I'm joined by rising country singer-songwriter Caleb Lee Hutchinson. Back in September, Hutchinson released the wonderful EP Slot Machine Syndrome. During this episode, we talk about writing and recording the songs of Slot Machine, working with the likes of Brent Cobb (who produced the effort), navigating Nashville songwriting rooms, falling in love with narrative country music, and how he's found himself carving a spot in Texas playing shows with folks like Vincent Neil Emerson.
This episode's presenting partner is Desert Door Texas Sotol and The Blue Light Live.
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Thomas Mooney 0:01
Hey y'all welcome back to new slang, I'm music journalist Thomas Mooney. And on this episode, I'm joined by Caleb Lee Hutchinson. Caleb is one of these young rising country songwriters to keep an eye on. He released an excellent EP back in September called slot machine syndrome. It was produced by Brent Cobb, and as you would expect, it's a real keeper. If you haven't checked it out yet, go give it a listen for being just five songs long. He does cover a lot of territory. That first song, it's called who I am. It's kind of Caleb's unofficial, official artist statement, if you will. It harkens back to a little bit of that outlaw movement. And of course, when someone like Brent Cobb is involved, you get these real rootsy country down home moods and feelings. And so there's plenty of that on this EP as well. And when you have a booming country southern drawl, like Caleb, you utilize it. So there's some really powerful country crooning moments as well. He's been living in Nashville for a minute now. And you can tell he's finding his camp of like minded folks who want to write country songs with narrative, soul and meaning and depth. Hell, as I've mentioned a few times Brent Cobb, he produced the latest project, we talked about navigating Nashville songwriter rooms, falling in love with country music that has that depth and emotional weight. How folks like Brent Cobb had been mentoring voices. And of course, we do a good amount of dissecting the songs of slot machines syndrome. Alright, just a few housekeeping notes before we get started. I'll make it super quick. One the Lubbock way my debut book is out and available for order. This first edition of the book has been going really, really quick. So be sure to get yourself a copy. I say first edition because this first one, I only printed 806 copies. They're all numbered. And of course 806 Is the nod to the area code in which the Panhandle is located. The Lubbock way is about a small bustling window of time here in Lubbock, where artists like flatland Calvary, Randall, King, and red chez Han, they're all grinding away making names for themselves. Folks like William Clark Greene and Josh Abbott, they were adjusting to larger bigger circles, and hardcore troubadours like Brandon Adams, Charlie stout, and Wade parks, they were still guiding the way of the Lubbock songwriter. It's currently in the new slang merch store. Also, there are T shirts, koozies, coffee mugs and a bunch of other stuff that you can order and hopefully dig. We'll be back to regular scheduling over here at new slang, which means two episodes a week. For the most part, I have a bunch of great ones in the can and on the docket. Which means if this is your first time listening, be sure to hit that subscribe button. We're available on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, and essentially anywhere that you can listen to podcasts. For even more new slang content, go give a like follow etc. On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Three, be sure to also check out our presenting partners over at Desert door and the blue light live. I'm doing these next couple of episodes ad free so go give them some love by giving them a like and follow as well. And for all those links that I've just mentioned, they will be in the show notes. Alright, let's get on into it. Here is Caleb Lee Hutchinson.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 3:30
Not on me. I'll try to not say anything incriminating, but I will overthink it.
Thomas Mooney 3:36
Yeah, that's the Yeah. Don't overthink it. Yeah, just just the free flow. Just let let it let it all out here.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 3:43
I guess I'm loosey goosey. We're all good.
Thomas Mooney 3:47
Well, yeah, um, I guess you know, like, I always kind of start these off with what we're what you just released. You just released a new EP just a couple weeks back. And yeah, yeah, I mean, this this new project right here. I think like let's just start off with the fact that you you worked with Brent Cobb on it as far as yeah him being the producer. I know you guys are both GA guys but what's the what how did you end up meeting Brenton like end up? Him being kind of the the guy that you wanted to work with as far as him? You know, taking the producing lead on the project.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 4:27
Yeah, man, I met Brent. Just kind of by luck and happenstance and not being afraid to ask for unrealistic things like I first when I first moved to Nashville, realize we both belong to like the same management company. And so I just told them that I wanted to write with Brent Cobb. He was like one of my favorite writers ever. And, you know, then one day I got the the faithful email. We were going to do it and Dude, it was it was just crazy. I've been a fan of Brant for a long time. And like, I was singing that dude songs in high school. So it was pretty, pretty surreal for me. And, like, I met him and probably embarrassed myself. But you know, he's just kind of, he just kind of is how everyone would assume he is he's real laid back. And he and I got along really well, like we first met up to, to ride and everything, but we probably spent an hour or two even just kind of sitting around and talking about music. And, you know, I'm not good at many times, I don't know many things, but I know like a stupid amount about music. So I think that was enough for him to, you know, be willing to, to at least be able to buy into the idea that I know what I'm talking about a little bit. And, you know, I saved up my best ideas and trick them into thinking that I know how to write a song. And you know, the rest, the rest is history. And then we started writing, wrote a couple more times, and he's like, dude, how many songs do you need? I'm like, I got planning as need someone to produce some formats, you know, you feel free to do it anytime. Just kind of joking. Because he hadn't done it beforehand. He's like, Yeah, man, I'm down. And yet, I mean, it was really just kind of, I didn't I didn't know he said it. I wasn't sure if he was real bad or not. And then I reached out and said, you know, what, when you want to do it, and I really just felt super honored. Because, you know, I was his first. First production paying, you know, and you never forget your first one can take that away from me.
Thomas Mooney 6:44
Yeah, that's so interesting. Right there. As far as you know, you, as you kind of said, right there, they just ask, you know, yeah, people, the worst that can be said is no, or just, you know, ignored. And that's, you know, there's that out, yeah, chance that chance of them saying, Yeah, sure, whatever. Yeah, let's do it. And, you know, that's, that's the way I kind of feel whenever, you know, as, as a journalist who's, you know, looking to do interviews, a lot of times, it's like, blind emails to people, like the worst they can do is just say, No. And if you don't say it, you're already saying no to yourself, so.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 7:24
Or if you tweet about Jason, I'm trying to get him damn on you.
Thomas Mooney 7:29
Oh, no, that's the there's a couple people who took that the wrong way like that. I was actually. Like, I was actually not a fan of Jason.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 7:40
But whatever works, you know, if you gotta start award and started. Yeah. thing is for certain he is on Twitter, if there I don't know of a better medium to reach out to
Thomas Mooney 7:52
him. Yeah, there is like I have, and this is probably something that no one really ever actually knows. I have, like, DM back and forth with him a few times and actually do have his email. But it's one of those like, where I'm like, I don't know if I should reach out to him. I'll go the right route. But, you know, yeah, we all need to
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 8:15
Yeah, they definitely like it's it's funny, because like, I got, I got people like even Brent, you know, like, I consider him a friend. He considers me a friend. I still get nervous, like reaching out to him. Like he'll call me and be real casual. And I'm like, oh my god, Brent Cobbs calling me.
Thomas Mooney 8:34
Yeah, that's, that's the it's almost like, the the time that you're away from someone like that, who, you know, they respect you. And they, you know that they enjoy your company and all that kind of stuff. But the time that you're away, it's like, hat. Like, you're just like second guessing how you get back into that spot where you're in the same room? You know what I mean? Because you do you feel like there's that little bit of like, oh, man, am I just gonna be bothering them? Am I just an annoyance? Am I that? Yeah, that dude that he got? It goes like whenever, you know, the, the your name pops up in, you know, he's in front of people when he goes, Oh, God, this guy's calling me again or so you know what I mean? Yeah, you have to like work past all that to really? Yeah, it's good. It's, that's not typically the case.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 9:23
Yeah, there's the other side of it. I mean, I'm sure there's many, many relationships out there and friendships that could have been a lot stronger. But somebody was like, I don't want to reach out to him. I don't want to know Him. The other guy's thinking, Well, this guy never reaches out to me. So I must not he must not like me.
Thomas Mooney 9:41
Yeah, exactly. The
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 9:43
there's a lot of power in not not being too worried about what people think. And you know, like, asking for all the asking for stuff like, hey, I want to write with Brent Cobb. And, you know, going, Hey, I'm gonna call him like, he gave me his number. If you don't regret it now, we'll make I will make him regret it later.
Thomas Mooney 10:03
Well, I was gonna ask that right there, is it easier to go into a right? Maybe like not knowing who that other person is not knowing like not being super, incredibly familiar with their, their catalogue? Or is it easier to kind of, you know, riding with someone who you're familiar with, but like, you know, you're maybe a little bit nervous beforehand. But as you kind of said, You were kind of collecting all your good ideas to to approach him. Yeah, with?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 10:34
Yeah, I think, I mean, I really think it depends how you want to look at it. Like, I've definitely, I knew I knew the type of song that I wanted to write with Brent Cobb, you know, and like, there's a song on there, I wrote with Trey Hensley like, I've been a massive fan of Trey for a long time. So I knew that I wanted, like a really cool, you know, something, something, I could hear him like flat pick home. But, you know, I've gone into REITs with people where I didn't know, what their style was, what their whole vibe was. And we made some really cool. But you know, there's, it's a trade off, because there's been lots of times where, you know, they'll just, they might give me a Google or whatever, and just kind of assume that I'm gonna, you know, make a certain type of music. And I'm like, Hey, actually, this is the kind of stuff I like, these are my influences. It's a lot, it's a lot easier. Arguably, it's a lot easier writing with people and you know, you kind of have shared interests and opinions and tastes. With that being said, I've worked with dudes, where they don't typically write the kind of song that we've written together, and I've loved it, you know? So I think just depends.
Thomas Mooney 11:46
Yeah, I think like, the, the CO writing thing is so interesting, because, as I've told a few people is like, you know, especially when it's, it's a situation where you maybe casually know each other, it's like, the quickest way to like, make, I guess, like a friendship or a bond, at least, because you're typically going over, you know, really, really intimate details about life. And you're kind of like, you know, pouring out all these secrets, and you know, what, your real thoughts on on stuff. And you may do that over the course of two hours, that would maybe a regular organic friendship would take, you know, weeks or months to even get to that subject. You know, what I mean?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 12:31
Yeah, I think like, being not forced, but having to co write and, you know, write with people on a personal level has made me you have to get more comfortable being vulnerable with people. And that definitely wasn't something I was super into, beforehand. You know, I kind of kept my mind, you know, what I thought were my deep thoughts to myself and just kind of jumped around everybody else. But, you know, you definitely have to get vulnerable with people. If you're doing it correctly, you know, or you can just go in there and go, you know, I really like beer. We should do another song about that. That's a little a little hard. Probably.
Thomas Mooney 13:16
What the world needs now is just one more songs about beer. Yeah. Just
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 13:20
yeah. It's about time someone does it, you know.
Thomas Mooney 13:26
Exactly. Yeah. Next record, just, you know, 10 Beer songs.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 13:32
That's, I mean, plenty of people do that right now. And ironically,
Thomas Mooney 13:37
it works. Yeah, well, you know, like this IP here Ebru what what was that?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 13:43
I said, I enjoy a brew.
Thomas Mooney 13:45
Yes. As do I. Yeah. I mean, it's always what I always kind of say is it's time in place. Right? There's a song works depending on the place and the time and you know, as far as like, of course, I love songs that are what I think most would consider highbrow you know, some some some deep stuff but you know, I think all of us need just like that Bud Light every once in a while. Yeah, I mean, can IPAs every fucking day? And I'm not really an okay guy. But you know,
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 14:17
list. You can't listen. Back to our boys Bell. You can't listen to elephant on a pontoon boat. You know, I'm saying like, you can't go on a fishing trip. And listen to last week. It'll be are you just crying to the lake? I guess? What, don't get me wrong. Half the reason I listen to music is to cry. You know, it's it's that in the notebook that keep me grounded emotionally. You know, but I agree, man, I don't I don't hate on anything at all. Like I love I think everything if it has an audience and like people are getting something out of it, I respect it. With that being said, I've definitely walked into one too many co writes, where they're like, I got this crazy idea. Picture small town my oh yeah, man, that's wow, that's really great. Don't tell them how small my town is. How will they know?
Thomas Mooney 15:15
Yeah. Well, that's the Yeah, I always love everyone's definition of what a small town is too, because I feel like I grew up in a small town. And that was like 8000. But yeah, I got a buddy. Like, I grew up in a small town and I graduated with five people. And you're like, Okay, well, that's actually real small. Okay.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 15:37
Yeah, man. It's like, I grew up, you know, kind of what is now technically like a suburb of Atlanta. Like, as a kid, it was so much smaller than it is now. And even now, like, when I go home, I just kind of walk around going, Who are these people? So I kind of got to see it all change. Which is like cool and a little bit sad. Batman's, like, my girlfriend, same, same thing. Like, most people I went to high school is considered to be like, small town, and you know, everybody, like, we all went to school with each other elementary through high school and everything. And then my girlfriend graduated with, like, 15 people. And yeah, but she like, she's from the Midwest, and her whole town was kind of just like, within so many blocks, we're all kind of spread out here.
Thomas Mooney 16:27
You know, it's weird about the towns that are that, that blow up and are getting so many more people is like, I'm not against that, obviously. But what I hate is that when they when they grow so fast, like it's all just the same. Generic fronts. It's all like the same Pizza Hut and Dollar General in Walmart. And, and it just all looks the same. Like, if you you take all those buildings and put them out here in Texas, and they would you couldn't tell the difference. You know?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 16:58
That's how you know it's coming. They start shutting down the Piggly Wigglies. And then where once was an open field, there's now dollars. And that's when you know, a storms come? Yeah. Once I don't know, random dollar generals have just popped up in what used to be fields. Yeah,
Thomas Mooney 17:15
that's how it is out here in Lubbock, where, you know, like, there's a bunch of cotton fields all around Lubbock. And before there's the, you know, new neighborhood development before, there's like, any kind of you can be like a dirt road. And then like, all of a sudden, there'll be $1 General there one day, and you're like, Okay, well, yeah, man, here's where the city's going.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 17:39
You know, that now you got a place to shop. So there you go.
Thomas Mooney 17:43
Yeah. I will say, though, not to go off too far on this dollar general store.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 17:48
So I heard, I've been wanting to talk about it.
Thomas Mooney 17:51
You want to hear it? Okay, so a couple years back, Garth Brooks released a vinyl box set on to like Walmart, but also the Dollar General. And it's like, five of the record, or four or five of the records from the 90s. And maybe like a live record or something like that. And I didn't know about it until just probably four or five months ago. And I'd seen something happen on Twitter where BJ Barnum was talking about it. And so then I was like, Well, fuck, and then we start looking at these dollar generals. And that day, I go and like look, and there's, I can't find this box at anywhere and I go to like three or $4 generals. One day, though, about a week later, I go in and there's like three box sets for like 20 bucks, up on like the top shelf. So I bought it all and then sold the rest. There you go. So yeah, yeah. $20 for some some Garth Brooks on vinyl. I don't think you can beat that.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 18:52
Date. Not I mean, that's, that's finally something of value at $1. General, I was gonna say, Well, the thing that really grinds my gears is I feel like to be called Dollar General. Like cheap. Like, I went to Dollar General thinking I'd get a deal. It's like, I could have well just went to Kroger. It says there's a little bit of BS if people aren't living up to the nine.
Thomas Mooney 19:17
Yeah, well, and it's all everything smaller to, you know.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 19:21
Yeah, I mean, that's why that's why people hate it. I guess.
Thomas Mooney 19:27
Yeah. Well, I mean, it's, you know, to say
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 19:32
we we're endorsing theft from Dollar General.
Thomas Mooney 19:37
Yeah, I said you weren't gonna say anything too bold on here. And now I think we're, we're going into that territory here.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 19:45
You know, if I would like if I could be labeled as canceled. That would just it would it. It makes you think that there was ever a time I was whatever the opposite of canceled is. So That's kind of a compliment. Yeah, like you got it. You got to be on. They got to pick you up for season two. If you're going to get canceled I would love my first controversy to be with Dollar General.
Thomas Mooney 20:12
Yeah, on People Magazine Dollar General scandal. Right up. So yeah, this new EP, let's we'll do that weird, bold, sharp transition back to the EP.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 20:27
Yeah. Cheap EP.
Thomas Mooney 20:32
Yeah. Well, you know, what I was gonna say is that, like, obviously, you have the self titled before this, but one of the things that you know, as far as the the difference between the first EP and this is like, you can see like a sharp like maturation process, I guess is what we'd call it. Your songs feel a little bit more adult a little bit more mature and it just feels like you've you know, gone up a level, if you will, of riding and whatnot. Did it? Did you feel like there was like ever, like a moment? Not necessarily, like if you could pinpoint to one song or something. But did you feel like there was like a moment where you kind of went, Oh, okay, like, I'm on to something new, something a little bit more what I want to sound like that I'm wanting to write about was there a, you felt like there was like a turn or anything like that, or just looking back?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 21:29
Yeah. Um, so, let me here's a little bit of insight, I appreciate you saying that, thank you. Um, so I don't even know if I've ever said this, let's see if I can get in trouble. Um, the the self titled EP, which I'm very, very proud of. I did that with Kristian bush in Atlanta, and Christians, a mastermind. And he really had such a strong, creative direction, like sense of direction. And I learned so much from the whole experience. But it definitely was kind of a last minute thing. And there was some like contractual stuff involved. And at the time of recording it, I wasn't even sure if that was going to be a project or an EP or whatever. So as much as I love it, this slot machine syndrome is, to me feels like mine a lot more. And, like, I've been, I've been writing songs since I was 10. You know, I put out an EP, myself when I was 15, or all songs I had written by myself. And so like the self titled, I love it. And I think there's some really cool sounds and fusion that's on there that I'm really proud of, to this day, and always will be. But it definitely like singing songs. Like there were a few songs on there that I'd all but one that I didn't write, and not that I'm against cutting other people's songs, but for me, I think I'm such a fan of songwriters and storytellers that for me, personally, I just felt kind of disconnected from and so like these, you know, I had, we, there's, there's what, five songs on this record. And I had plenty more. Um, you know, I moved to town three years ago, I think, like, right after we had recorded the self titled and all I did was write non stop, I think and, from this batch of songs, who I am, was the first song that I wrote. That's on this. And I think that was kind of my moment where I just I felt super, like, it felt like I didn't have control over what was going on. I felt like everyone had an opinion of what I should do and how I should do it, and how to capitalize on whatever. And, you know, I was still a teenager at the time, and felt immense pressure to know what to do and how to do it. And, you know, I think like that when I wrote who I am, that was kind of the moment that I was like, oh, yeah, that this is why I do this. Like, I wrote a song kind of for myself, and it felt like I put a whole life into perspective. And I mean, you know, I wrote Love you tonight not long after that, and I wrote a bunch of songs and and then you know, I got to everyone I co wrote with, I was a massive fan of and getting to go into the CO writing process, knowing what the future project would and should sound like. I think was very helpful.
Thomas Mooney 24:52
Yeah, like who I am definitely feels like you are making a statement and kind of, you know, shaking some cobwebs loose. If you or something like that and kind of just, you know, breaking through on to, you know, stepping forward or something toward Yeah, a different, you know, set not necessarily different sound but a word it honestly, like it feels like, oh, this, as you said, like, it doesn't sound like you're a kid anymore, if you will. Yeah,
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 25:19
I think it was just like, I just felt so much pressure. And for like, the first time in my life, there was, I felt like I wasn't even enjoying what I was doing. Because I was just so worried about what other people thought and letting other people down and living up to expectations. And I think like, shaking that loose was a huge part of my like, not to sound cringy or whatever, but my artistic growth as well as just my personal thing, you know, I think like, like, it makes sense from like, the the whole music perspective, but also just where I was in life, like, I moved out, I moved away from my hometown was out on my own for the first time ever, and was away from all these things that made up who I was to myself. And so that was like, kind of one of the first times in my life that I had to sit with myself and take an honest look it no pun intended who I am. And so yeah, I think like, I just was desperately wanting to make something that I really believed in, regardless of if anyone liked it or not. And so I think that's why this this project means a lot to me.
Thomas Mooney 26:36
Yeah, that's, that's so interesting, right there. Because, you know, I think that, like, obviously, you kind of came into some limelights into like the, you're talking about this pressure, the the pressure of kind of a career, if you will, at such an early age where, you know, most songwriters, most singer songwriters, you know, they're not really feeling that they've at 1819, they're still kind of working it out where, with no one having a spotlight on them without like, the pressure of having any kind of, you know, any kind of management really, or any kind of like, deals or anything like that. And so it's where they, they can maybe figure themselves out a little bit more what they want to sound like what they want to write about before all that comes and yeah, I can't imagine like the the pressure of, of just being, you know, I always think back, like, what was I doing at 18? I was just going to school and kind of being a shithead, you know, really have any real like, pressure of what am I going to record? Or what am I going to do? Has a super huge impact of what people think of me. Career wise.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 27:53
Yeah. Yeah, man, I mean, especially, like, so many of the people that I love and admire, apart from it being because of what they make. It's like so much of just who they are as people and their attitudes towards music and art and stuff. And so yeah, I think like, I just got to a point man, where, like, I just felt so disconnected from myself and what I was doing and yeah, it was, it was a weird, it was a weird time, like, it should, from an outside perspective, it should have been like, the best time ever. And like, I'm certainly not, I'm very thankful for every opportunity I've ever had. And, you know, I'm not trying to sound like I'm bad mouthing anything at all. I just, personally, it put me in kind of a weird spot. And I had to confront a lot of things about myself. And, yeah, but I mean, I'm grateful for it. I think, like, talking about, you know, being that young or whatever. I don't, I think, like, it sucked in the moment, but it forced me to look and think and come to the conclusion that, you know, this is what I want to do. And this is what I stand for. And this is what I'm not going to compromise.
Thomas Mooney 29:13
Yeah. Well, I think like that's maybe something also that artists who have, you know, really, really great voices, which, of course, you have a really great voice. Sometimes, like, you know, people can dismiss the songwriting aspect or kind of like, you know, push you push people in the cut and other songs, which I again, like, I don't, I don't knock anyone doing that either. Because I mean, George Strait, look at his career. Yeah. But you know, if you do have that itch to write, you know, and that's what you you want to be, I guess, like, you don't want to just have the identity of being the singer or the artist you want that songwriter part to because if it's something that moves you you know what I mean? And yeah, sometimes you can You know, it can feel like maybe that that gets stunted, if you will? If, if you're not really being, you know, encouraged to go in that direction as well.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 30:12
Yeah, yeah, I think I'm just, I realized that it's more important for me to, like, feel like I'm making something authentic and being honest and making stuff that's honest and that I'm proud of, than anything else, you know, like, I would rather be unsuccessful making things, I'm proud of them be super successful making stuff that I hate. And that's just me, personally. Cuz like, all my all my heroes, you know, plenty of them are dead and gone. And they still, you know, I still feel the effect of the stuff they made to this day, you know, and I know, like, music genuinely played my life many, many times. I know, that's a cliche, but it's true. And so I just think, like, what what we're doing what we're doing matters more than trying to climb a chart or, you know, trying to make a bunch of money.
Thomas Mooney 31:12
Yeah, well, it's as you if, as you said, like, kind of your a lot of your songwriting heroes, your artistic heroes, they may be dead and gone, but like the music still is around, which in turn makes you go, Well, you know, what, like, in 15 years, the music still gonna be here. 20 years, 30 years, 40 years. Music still around, and it still it transcends the time and place, if you will? Yeah. What did you what I guess, like with the title track slot machine syndrome, that that dream is such an interesting. It's it because it obviously it's not like, you know, something I've I don't think anyone's really ever heard before, but it feels Yeah, it's intriguing when you just hear it. Well, when did that kind of come to you as as kind of like an idea?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 32:05
Yes. So I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, probably a week before I wrote with Brent. And he was talking about a relationship that he had just gotten out of, and we're sort of talking about our shared experiences with that kind of stuff. And he said, slot machine syndrome. That is like, why, you know, you just you put so much into something. And you keep that you think like, the more you put in like, eventually you'll get like this huge payoff. But you kind of draining yourself. And I just, like number one, I just thought, Wow, what a cool phrase. I've never heard the term slot machine syndrome before. And but number two, I just thought it was really like, applicable to a lot of stuff I've seen in my life. I mean, I had, you know, a lot of a lot of friends and family and friends of family that fell victim to abuse and, you know, addictions and all kinds of stuff. And you know, it's definitely like, a pattern. And I, you know, I had some sort of extra deeply personal stuff that's gone on in my life that, you know, I relate it to and stuff that's gone on with family and whatnot. But yeah, just thought like, man, I've never heard anyone sing about that kind of thing. And certainly never heard anyone who can't grow a beard, sing about that kind of thing. So yeah, I mean, it was just, I just, I just thought like, wow, that's a cool phrase. And I think, I think someone like me should write a song that's like that.
Thomas Mooney 33:58
Yeah, well, that's the, it's obviously like I, you know, there's 1000 songs about gambling, and that kind of, yeah, form of diction and that kind of imagery. But like, again, like the slot machine, I don't think like, there's really, you know, there's not too many songs that are talking about in relation to to gambling and yeah, feeding those coins. And, and yet, it's, you know, still the same kind of the thing, the same thing.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 34:25
It's a cautionary tale, you know, because that's another big part of it. It's like, I really think that anyone can find something that makes them feel better. And, you know, if you're, if you get addicted, and that's whether that's a relationship or drugs or alcohol or whatever. Like if you find that one thing that you think makes you feel on top of the world, better men than I have ruined their whole lives and ruin their family's lives over that. You know, and so, that's like the end of the second verse. You know, if you don't think it's true, and it can't happen to you, they'll say you got it, that type of thing. Like, because I didn't want it to come across as I think I'm like, above anybody, or like, Oh, these people that I've seen, you know, live bad lives, I'm so much better than them. And in fact, I'm saying the opposite. Like any of us are capable of ruining our lives and everyone around us lives.
Thomas Mooney 35:26
Yeah, that's the, you know, that. It's, it's the thing with with addiction of, you know, like, that first step is kind of admitting that you do have the problem. And if you if you kind of do that whole thing where this can happen to me, I mean, like your, you know, yeah, Niall, you know, it's, it's something. So, yeah, I just thought like, oh, go ahead. What was that?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 35:51
I just, I think, I think people tend to sort of think they're above it. You know, that, like addicts, gross, dirty people. I'm not that I just, I just do this.
Thomas Mooney 36:03
Yeah, that's the, you know, not to necessarily go too far in this. But like, my, my stepdad is a counselor. And he always talks about how, you know, you'll sometimes he's been at, like, you know, these rehabs where these people go in who think that the only problem they have is, oh, I, you know, I kind of did this on the side. And I'm only here because, you know, a court order, and I can probably finish this up and then still drink on the weekends or something like that. And typically, like that's, you know, not the way you should be looking at it. You know, that's not the way that's like, really, again, like the denial aspect of like, you know, I'm an addict, but I'm not that kind of addict or whatever the case, it's kind of the, yeah, it's a slippery slope. And it's like, also the whole judging aspect of, you know, glass, glass houses, and what, yeah, throwing rocks. So, yeah,
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 37:01
yeah, I think like, I think the thing that makes it kind of unique for me. And like, it's nothing, nothing crazy. It's not like, it's like my immediate family had some horrific thing. But I definitely had experienced some things and it felt like, let down by people that I loved and respected. And I think I fell into that thinking way, way less than them. Because I was just so pointed. And so I think writing, it kind of enabled me to see that perspective, a little bit, and in turn kind of helped me, you know, forgive, because I think, like, I say, I think in order to really forgive someone, you kind of have to be able to recognize your own capacity to like, do evil and do bad. Yeah. And because if you think you're so above somebody, it's kind of hard to empathize.
Thomas Mooney 37:58
Yeah, exactly. And that's the, that's honestly, like, one of the things that I often think about when it comes to songwriting is, you know, I think all of our favorite songwriters, like maybe their their best skill was always empathy, and understanding other people's perspectives and just taking on a street like that glimpse into other people, like, the reason why people do certain things, and not necessarily judging them as a bad person or a horrible person just because of a, of something that maybe is uncontrollable for them, maybe something that they actually have. They do have control over but it's still a second to like, just empathize with that person and figure out maybe why there's something deeper in there.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 38:44
Yeah, yeah, I think I think doing that, you know, is helpful for your own self, you know, if you're able to, for other people, it's a lot easier to be honest with yourself about who you are, apart from all that, you know, I think like from a writer's perspective, I've always just been really attracted to writers that are super honest. And I got I wrote I wrote who I am like, almost immediately after listening to Living Proof by Hank Jr. Because I just thought like wow, this this dude was young and feeling pressure, like the whole songs about feeling pressure, and people measuring him up to his daddy and measuring them up to this and and then, like, that's what inspired that song really was I was just like, How cool was that? And like, obviously, I'm not the son of Hank Williams, but I was listening to it and really like resonating with it
Thomas Mooney 39:39
yeah, yeah, that's that's such a man that right there as far as like being Hank Jr. Like, just like, so many people's you know, opinion of you is, you know, your father and like, I bet like there's so many identity issues that like he's gone through as far as You know, trying to figure out, you know, how to how do you know? Do I change my name? Do I like how much do I yeah, I like
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 40:09
he was like one of the first child stars, you know, like no one. There wasn't Justin Bieber. Like he was he was one of the first people to be he was brought up famous, they were dressing them up like his daddy, you know, when he was a kid? And I can't I can't imagine I was 18 going, oh, people have expectations of me. This feels weird. Yeah, I can't imagine that dude felt. And I think like the fact that he was able to, you know, be so honest and upfront about it, and, you know, completely change his sound and in my opinion, like, revolutionize the genre, and a lot of ways. Super admirable.
Thomas Mooney 40:51
Yeah, because it has to be like, such a mixed feeling of, you know, wanting to honor legacy and family name and all that kind of stuff. But, you know, also like, Hey, I'm my own individual self, too. Yeah. It's yeah, it's such a complex, you know, thing that he probably has gone through, obviously, his entire life, but I'm sure like, there's obviously there's plenty of other folks who have had, yeah, famous parents. And, I mean, like, you imagine being like the son of Michael Jordan, you know?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 41:24
Yeah. I think like, it's, you know, and in a way I've felt this, but the mean, if you're like, if you're that, and you're feeling, feeling down or feeling pressure about it, you have to kind of feel guilty for feeling bad. Because, you know, it's like, well, from an outside perspective, that person's got all the everything going for him. Like they got this legacy behind him, they got people are interested in and because of this, so they you know, they don't have a right to complain or feel bad. That they, you know, got that pressure, like, that's it that's a gift, which in some ways is true, but it's, you know, it's a double edged sword.
Thomas Mooney 42:03
Yeah, absolutely. For you, obviously, you just mentioned how you, you know, moving to Nashville, and, you know, that, obviously, like, I'm one of these people who thinks that, you know, you may not necessarily like all the music that's coming out of Nashville, but all the great songwriters are in that town. And if they don't live there, they're visiting a whole bunch. And, yeah, it's that whole iron sharpens iron aspect of it. Do you how much oil like you know, just how much, I guess? How much of your opinion changed? Once you started getting into these co Writing Situations and songwriting groups, where you went, Oh, this was my opinion on what was, what was this is what I thought was happening here. And then this is actually what it looks like, on the inside, if you will.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 42:56
Yeah, well, you know, I think, I think all my preconceived notions, some of them were validated, like, there was, I had, I mean, like, look, I was the, I found Sturgill Simpson when I was 16. And I was like, Oh, I have, I know, the secret to music and all these other people, you know, they don't get it. And so like, I had, like this idea of, like, you know, all these pop country guys that, you know, they just write the same song over and over again. But like, I think, moving town riding with people who have had very successful songs recently, like, number one, there is good music on the radio. And it's definitely given me like a newfound appreciation for more quote, unquote, mainstream country. But there, I had this idea in my head that like, These people must just hate what they're doing. And there's, I mean, I've met a lot of people who are great writers write songs that aren't necessarily my cup of tea. But it's like, they're, they're incredible writers, they have really cool ideas. And there's also a lot of people who write, you know, sway one particular side of country that are able to write songs, like with me, you know, and I think almost because they haven't been writing as much like, quote, unquote, out country, or traditional country, or whatever you want to call it. You know, they have a lot of ideas, and they're excited about that. I mean, I've written a lot of songs that are more like pop country that I'm really excited about and that I think are cool. So I think definitely, I've just kind of not I broke down a lot of that, like, Oh, I'm, I'm too cool for this type stuff, you know?
Thomas Mooney 44:40
Yeah, that's the, I think, you know, obviously growing up here in Texas, we've always had this like, you know, this idea that Texas versus Nashville and yeah, always like, I think like that any kind of like beef any kind of like rivalry in that way. It's one to like drive up sales. I think it's probably good For every one as far as sales goes, but, you know, it's not really a thing that, that the artists ever think about. And it's only like a fan kind of deal. But I always kind of say and challenge people like the people who you think are writing bad songs, quote, unquote, in Nashville. You know, they're still talented songwriters. It's just like, maybe you don't like what they're the subject matter or anything like that. There's, there's still stuff like on the radio or by artists that, you know, I'm not putting on every day. But like, you'll hear a song you got Oh, that was a pretty good line there. Or like, you know, the alliteration right there was pretty damn good. Or whatever. This is fucking catcher then shit. Like, yeah.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 45:49
Yeah, I think like, I'm kind of learning the the songwriter perspective to gives you a different lens to view on from, you know, not just as a listener of like, what what makes me tap my toe, but like, the actual art form of it? Yeah, I think every anything that has, you know, and it's helping people and exciting people and making them care about music and go see live shows and buy records, I think is awesome.
Thomas Mooney 46:17
What's kind of like your, your week, as far as like, if when you're writing? Do you are you kind of one of these guys who tries to write as much as possible? Are you kind of more on a schedule, or what's kind of like your typical go to as far as not necessarily, you got to hit it quote, or something like that. But it kind of like your your, your typical output, if you will,
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 46:38
for a long time, I tried to, like, designate a certain amount of time to writing a day, which I had a lot of cool stuff come from that. Now I'm more so just take the approach of writing, if I have an idea throughout the day, I'll jot it down. And then I would say, probably, now only two or three times a week, I'll sit down and try to, you know, iron it out. But at this point, too, I just have like, I got so many songs and so many half written songs. Like, I got, I got no shortage of material. But yeah, I think writing and writing is good for me. I just, it's really, you know, therapy costs money. You can write songs for free. Yeah. If you don't want to filmed anyone, they don't have to be good.
Thomas Mooney 47:31
Yeah, well, how much do you feel, because I feel like this is probably a big thing. We always kind of think of writing is like just you sitting down with the pen and the guitar. And, and that's the writing part. How much of it though, is like you do get that idea, you jot it down, and then it just kind of stays with you the rest of the day, or the rest of the week? How much of that happens, where it's just kind of in the back of your mind, you may be on autopilot doing other stuff, but you're kind of working that song out before you actually put it to paper?
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 48:01
Yeah, I think I think just knowing, knowing where you're gonna, with any like story, knowing where you're going to began and where you're going to end, filling it out is so much easier. So I think like, the more the more conceptualize that the probably the easier it's going to be written. But I mean, I also know a lot of people that are way more meticulous. Like, I'm very much like, however it comes out. If it doesn't strike me as weird. I just want it to be as much in my voice as possible. And some people are like, very, you know, every every syllable has to, like, mathematically be the same and this and that. And I think I'm just I'm just saying stuff over chords, you know? Which, you know, that's, that's, uh, that's catchy music, baby. Yeah.
Thomas Mooney 48:57
Okay, here's a quick little story for you. There's a one of my favorite artists of all time is a guy from here from Lubbock named Terry Allen. And you know, he wrote Amarillo highway for if you if you know that song. And yeah, so he put out a record called Lubbock on everything back in 79. It's a double record. And he had moved out to California was moving back or like it wanted to cut the record in Lubbock. And so he finds a place to, to cut the record, in this place called Caldwell Studios here in town. And, at the time, the lead, the Head Producer, the lead engineer was Lloyd Maines who of course, you know, great pedal steel player and producer here in Texas and dad of Natalie Maines and so he's showing Terry's showing the songs to Lloyd and the rest of the band who are all like mains brothers, and I guess like Terry Terry's also piano player. That's what he plays on. So He's sitting out this piano and he's playing the song. And it's a little different every time as far as the, the counting goes as far as the the four measures or whatever. Yeah, Boyd is trying to teach. Terry, like, you're, you're, you keep on being off and he's trying to teach him the time. And Terry turns to Lloyd and says, Lloyd, it's music, not algebra. And sometimes that like, that's just necessary necessary.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 50:29
Yeah. I think both approaches can work. But you know, if you're if you're the guy if you're making the art, you know, which one's supposed to work.
Thomas Mooney 50:39
Yeah. And I think like, that's the, the kind of the thing right there as far as like Lloyd being that technical mind and Terry being the, you know, just the, the artistic mind, they both kind of rubbed off on one another, as their careers went on. So like, it's a little balance of both, you know, so
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 50:58
yeah, that goes back to you know what you're saying iron sharpens iron. And they're like, I've been being around people who think about music differently than me. Always been a good thing. Because I'll either go, I like what they're doing. I'm gonna borrow some of that. Or maybe, like, do that. If I ever have an idea like this? Or I go, wow, there's a bit and I hate what they're doing. I will never do that.
Thomas Mooney 51:23
Yeah. That's the, you know, people always ask, like, what your influences is, I always think like, well, it's, it's probably like everything because even the stuff you don't like, you know, at least that I don't want to do that.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 51:37
Yeah. One of my one of my, and I'm sure this is like, a quote, but I remember when Christian Bush, you know, when we did that self titled The song left in me that's on there. That's the only song on the record that like I wrote. And it was really the only song at the time that I was proud enough of to like, show this dude who has all these, you know, CMAs and Grammys on a shelf. And like this Pantone and he bought he liked the song and like, that was written everything. He told me, you know, good writers, right and great writers steel. Yeah. It's like, it's so true, man. Like, what's great for me is like, I listened to so much the country that I just rip off all the time that no one will ever be able to piece together. Because about music taste is so psychotic. The Yeah, man, I think like just ripping off enough things to call it your own is the key.
Thomas Mooney 52:36
Yeah, exactly. It's the, it's my like, every, I'm sure like, it's even at a more rapid pace than this. But every like, six months or so you'll hear a song and you're like, Oh, that's a John Fogarty song. Or like, that's a Tom Petty song and like, it's obviously yeah, but like, it's like the every riff you hear you're kind of going man that that's like a you know, the Tom Petty song right there. I've heard that.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 53:04
Yeah. Yeah, man. Well, you know, it's, I think to in country, it's like, you hear so many people say, well, we want more traditional sounding country. And then you give them a traditional sound country song like, well, this is just a Merle Haggard ripoff. You want your additional Khatri? Like, if it's if it sounds like you're ripping off Merle Haggard to George Jones, you probably just did a great job.
Thomas Mooney 53:29
And then also, like, let's obviously like, Moreau or you know, Willie Nelson or Johnny cat. They all had like 50 records, too. So like yeah, they all covered all the they covered all like, you know, all the territory up.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 53:47
Yeah, man. I mean, there's a, you know, don't kiss the fiddle and they're all still on each other songs.
Thomas Mooney 53:53
Exactly. So yeah. What's your I guess your plans going forward? Are you thinking of hitting the road anytime soon? And, and kind of going out more? Yeah,
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 54:05
man. Well, you know, I just, I just got off a little tour with Vincent. Neil Emerson. Oh, I love that dude. I think he's, he's the guy and I think more and more people are gonna are gonna see it and realize it like he's so stinking good. But yeah, we just we just did like a whole Southeast thing. We got a couple shows in Texas next month. Playing in San Antonio and Austin and I'm very excited about all that and I think moving forward you know, there's some conversations to be had and I'll have to probably rob a couple banks, but you know, I want to definitely like I have enough songs for a full length record. And I've got like three albums that I'm already writing. Man just kind of down in and figuring out, you know what I want to what I want to put up next, but I think like this is the most excited I've ever Then don't make music. Because I really, I'm really so proud of slot machines syndrome and like, it makes me feel excited to have something I'm proud of and and feel is worthy of building off of and improving.
Thomas Mooney 55:15
Yeah, absolutely. That's the, it's one thing I've learned talking with musicians and stuff is that, you know, once a project's out, like you guys are already on to the next thing, or in your case, the next three things, but, you know, yeah, man always like this weird balance of here's this new thing out and we're gonna be playing these songs, but I'm already on to like, the next thing. Let's let's get on to it. I'm already kind of honestly tired of it. But, you know, I'm
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 55:40
no, definitely. Yeah, I get I get sick of myself quick. And like we we recorded slot machine syndrome like last August. I mean, you know, we had it in the vault for a minute. And even now I'm like, Oh, I sound so young. I'm ready to do the next thing. But also, like, I've had that discussion with, you know, people who are way better artists than me, I think. Probably a good sign. You know, because if I was sitting around going like, Yep, I've done it. I've made the perfect record. And I guess I would just need to quit.
Thomas Mooney 56:12
Yeah. Well, that's also like, you've been around plenty of people who that last long way wrote was like, is that this is the best thing I've ever done. And like, it's always that the last song you did is like what you're most excited about? You know? Yeah, it's it's, that's part of the thing. Absolutely. Yeah. Vincent Neil Emerson, though. Yeah, he's, uh, seen him a couple times out here and obviously being from Texas and that new record his his if y'all haven't checked it out just yet. Be sure to check that out as well.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 56:47
Oh, yeah, that record is incredible. He's and his Instagrams. Hilarious. And he's a he's just a great dude. It really is. His self titled records. Incredible. And is the one before that the fried chicken people women?
Thomas Mooney 57:04
Yeah, yeah, it's a title
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 57:07
you think slot machine syndromes, but decent paddle fried chicken and evil women.
Thomas Mooney 57:13
Yeah, he. The first I heard of him. I was sent his first record. I can't remember exactly what it's called. But it was before all it's offline. Now. It's off print, I guess. But he still had that song seven come 11 back then. And that song right there. Like, just hauntingly beautiful in this like Townes Van Zandt kind of tradition? just amazed? Yeah.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 57:39
Absolutely. Yeah, that was what was cool. Like, having plenty of conversations with him that like Hans Van Zandt and blaze Foley and got Clark like, it's, it's cool. And, you know, like, obviously, like, it's, you know, he's, he's not like, a lot older than me or anything like that. But like, I've listened to his music for a while. It's cool to meet people and be like, Oh, they love the same stuff. I love. Like, maybe that maybe it all makes sense. But also, like, there's the there's the Texas connection, because I'm not from Texas, but everyone thinks I am. Because I'm like I can I've had experiences where I've told people Yeah, I'm from Dallas, Georgia. They like oh, yeah, Texas. So I just claimed her. I'll take it.
Thomas Mooney 58:25
That works, man. You can just be from both places.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 58:28
The East Texas, West Georgia look alarmingly the same. That's what I've found. I'll take it.
Thomas Mooney 58:35
Yeah, just just just say you're from East Texas. I'll double dip a little a little further than people realize. But yeah,
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 58:43
I'm on the West Georgia side of Texas.
Thomas Mooney 58:46
There you go. Man, you're sure. You know, it's been really, really great talking with you this afternoon.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 58:53
I appreciate it. And I also wanted to thank you for your tweet, man. It really it really meant a lot to me.
Thomas Mooney 59:00
Yeah, of course. Man. I again, like if you're talking about the one with the No. You know, if you like tourists and Marez and yeah, yeah, holy Johnson. I honestly believe that. Dude, some good
Caleb Lee Hutchinson 59:14
thank you. Appreciate, hopefully Yeah, man. Well, buddy, I appreciate it. I appreciate the support. We can't wait to let you down.
Thomas Mooney 59:33
Okay, that is it for episode 204. Be sure to check out slot machine syndrome, the latest EP by Caleb Lee Hutchinson. Go check out our partners over at the blue light live and desert door. Stop on over at the New Slide merch store and get yourself a copy of the Lubbock way. That's my debut book just out earlier this year. Subscribe and share with your buddies if you enjoyed news lines. And yeah, I'll see y'all later in the week for another episode.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai